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Studio, hospital cut jobs

BURBANK — Two major employers in the city announced layoffs this week, which could mean hundreds of Burbank employees out of work.

Warner Bros. announced Tuesday that it will cut about 800 jobs, the majority of which will come from its Burbank facility, in an effort to trim its operations and face the challenges of a down economy, said Scott Rowe, the company’s senior vice president of corporate communications.

Layoffs at Warner Bros. will impact mostly “back office” employees, like accountants and information technology staff, although some executive and creative positions will be cut as well, officials said.

“The changing entertainment business landscape, shifting consumer demand and the overall state of the economy have affected companies around the world, and Warner Bros. is not immune to these factors,” Chairman Barry Meyer and President Alan Horn wrote in a memo sent Tuesday to employees, informing them of the layoffs before managers began meeting with individual employees to begin making cuts about 10 a.m.

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Of the 800 jobs the entertainment giant is cutting, 200 are vacant positions. Half of the remaining 600 positions will be outsourced to a third-party company with operations in India, Poland and Burbank.

The outsourced accounting and information technology jobs will be more cost-effective and will allow about 100 Burbank employees to continue working at their current desks, just for another company, Rowe said.

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center also announced Tuesday that it will close its urgent care center at 3413 Pacific Ave., which houses its occupational health center and diabetic food program.

This, along with other changes, will eliminate 94 positions.

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The main hospital’s transitional care unit, which helps patients move to convalescent homes, will also be closed and its cardiac rehabilitation program will be restructured to help address the decline in revenues.

Patient care will not be affected, hospital spokeswoman Patricia Aidem said, adding that there are hospitals with these services within four miles.

The hospital was forced to cut services and jobs because there are fewer patients being admitted, Aidem said.

“What’s happening is people aren’t coming in,” Aidem said, explaining that while critical care operations are still being used, admissions for elective surgeries, many of which are the major revenue-generating procedures for the hospital, have dropped dramatically.

Other recent layoffs include Circuit City, which will close its stores at 401 N. 1st St. in Burbank and 200 E. Broadway in Glendale, along with locations nationwide after the company filed for bankruptcy and failed to find a buyer.

Yahoo Inc. cut 1,500 jobs from its global workforce of 15,000 in December, including some at its Burbank office, which employed about 1,000 before the layoffs. The company does not have final figures on how many jobs were lost at the 3333 Empire Ave. facility.

“It’s all related to the consumer, who’s really cut back pretty sharply,” said Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

“It’s kind of the next phase. You had the initial shock from the bursting of the housing bubble, then you had the credit crisis and the whole problem with the banking sector and so just the general consumer is kind of in a state of paralysis right now.”

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While consumer habits may be influencing layoffs in Burbank and around the country, those may change if President Barack Obama’s administration is able to increase confidence in the economy, Nakamoto said.

“The consumer is really cutting back and people are just becoming more and more concerned and it just becomes kind of a vicious cycle,” he said.

“But over the longer term I think that things will turn around, especially with this stimulus package that’s coming in from the Obama administration.”


 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.


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